Investigating the environmental costs of utilizing graphene-based adsorbents and pulsed power oxidation for the removal of emerging contaminants from urban wastewater

David Pryce, Ahmed M.E. Khalil, Fayyaz A. Memon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Emerging contaminants continue to pose a threat to environmental quality that warrant mitigation. Novel technologies are being investigated that offer promise in their removal, yet it is important that the environmental costs of these treatments do not overshadow their benefits. With sustainability a key priority in global infrastructure development, insights into the environmental impact of new technologies is necessitated. In the present work, the environmental burden of three novel GBM (graphene-based material) filters (porous graphene, graphene oxide-based foam and hybrid combination) are quantified and compared at a flow rate of 1 m3/d by way of life cycle impact assessment with an alternative solution, an AOP-PPT (advanced oxidation process by pulsed power treatment). Initial results demonstrated negligible differences in overall environmental impact between the three GBM filter formats (7.7–7.9 pt), while significant asymmetry was observed with the AOP-PPT that incurred a total impact score of 67.9 pt. This disparity was attributed to the high energy demand of the AOP-PPT that was a key predictor of environmental cost in an India context due to the high proportion of non-renewable energy sourced. The GBM filters were also considered at a range of breakthrough times and contrasted against the AOP-PPT. Results showed that differences between GBM filters were negligible at all breakthrough periods and that multiple breakthroughs a day would be required before the AOP-PPT became environmentally favourable. Finally, due to the AOP-PPT affording inclusive disinfection, the environmental burden of a GBM filter was compared under different scenarios of incorporated disinfection. The total impact of the AOP-PPT achieving full disinfection was found to be 242.5 pt compared to only 26.8 pt for the GBM filter coupled with UV254 (ultraviolet 254 nm) treatment and 13.9 pt when incorporating chlorination/de-chlorination. These findings should support sustainable development goals when combating prevailing emerging contaminants in municipal wastewater.

Original languageEnglish
Article number152985
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - Apr 15 2022
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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